As much of a thing as my grandparents not having to lock their doors back in the day was, being worried about falling prey to a scam is as much of a thing now. The past couple, three decades have taught us to keep our doors locked tight, but how do you keep predators out of your life?

Last week, before tracking down how the Amory Food Pantry wound up getting its name caught in the middle of some adverse online instance, John Ward said it kind of reminded him of the Spy Vs. Spy comic strip in Mad Magazine.

These days, you’ve got one person going after another, like with the comic strip, but it’s really hard for the innocent person to strike back and see their just desserts coming into play.

It’s pretty common for the Monroe Journal to run some sort of scam warning on our website and in the paper at least once a month it seems.

It may be a scammer soliciting in a city’s name or someone threatening jail time through a jury duty or IRS scam, but it’s always the same learning lesson in the end – be careful of who is on the other end of a telephone call.

Nobody is safe from scammers, as even law enforcement agencies’ names are used by someone soliciting funds.

Last week, you may have received a call dealing with a Social Security scam. In texting Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley about the surge of people commenting on our Facebook page about the press release warning about it, he said there was a huge volume of calls to Monroe County residents.

I’ve written several stories about different scams such as someone claiming to be a grandchild in desperate need of money from an elderly person. You’d think people wouldn’t fall for these tricks, but scammers keep getting smarter.

For the past several weeks, I’ve spent lots of time with law enforcement officials for a series of stories about misconceptions the public may have about the way certain things are handled through their jobs.

I’ve had the conversation with officials about how if scammers used the same drive and creativity they use to swindle people and do something productive with it, they could be really successful and contribute a lot to society.

To the contrary, we continue to live in an age when making an easy buck is more important to some people than making an honest living.

Imagine what we’d have if somebody trusting invented something useful to everyone instead of something harmful like credit card skimmers. Imagine if all those unknown 662 calls on your caller ID were people with something constructive to say instead of robo-calls.

Like you may have, I’ve received plenty of emails from people with broken English promising millions of dollars if I just send a $300 gift card. I’m either smart enough or cynical enough to know better.

If life hasn’t taught you yet, there’s no Arabian prince with billions of dollars to give out to random email addresses or telephone numbers here in the U.S. in return for just a few dollars for postage. At least back in the day, any long lost uncle’s wills made you work for it and spend one night in a haunted mansion to cash in on a million dollars.

This phrase has become a cliché, but there’s a lot to learn from it – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If those unknown numbers on the caller ID seem suspicious, they probably are. As intimidating and desperate as some of those callers may seem, they aren’t going to do anything to you if you don’t do what they ask. If you have any doubt in your mind, just hang up the phone.

I’m sure you have lived an honest life and worked really hard for what you have, so don’t let some untrusting stranger take it away. As convincing as they may seem, I’m convinced you have all the ability in the world to protect yourself and cut them off.

Ray Van Dusen is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.

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